Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) yesterday (January 29) voted in favour of launching a campaign to remove the one-year deferral on blood donations from gay and bisexual men currently implemented by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).
During the vote, they also said the campaign will “aim to achieve an individualised risk assessment in place of the 12-month ban”.
The TCDSU motion was proposed by the SU LGBT Rights Officer Thomas O’Neill and seconded by Welfare Officer Aisling Leen.
Speaking in favour of the motion, O’Neill told University Times that the ban “doesn’t match 21st century standards”, and that the “virus doesn’t specifically attack a gay man”.
Gay and bisexual men in the Republic and Northern Ireland are currently banned from donating blood for a year after they have had anal or oral sex with another man, even when it is safer-sex or sex in a stable relationship or marriage. Men who use PrEP are also banned from donating blood in the Republic of Ireland for five years after they last take the medication.
Although strives are being made, it is still simply not enough, lifetime ban or not, the rules surrounding queer men and blood donation are solely based around sexual orientation and only reinforce the stigma around HIV and AIDS.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the IBTS conducted the implementation of a one-year deferral on blood donations from gay and bisexual men without the establishment of an expert advisory group.
The Medical Independent reported that the replacement was done against the recommendations of its medical advisory committee (MAC) to establish an expert advisory group to consider a deferral duration.
According to an IBTS spokesperson, its board agreed that an expert advisory panel would not provide “any additional value to the decision-making process.” In 2016, there were reports of considerations for a five-year deferral for blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
In August 2019, an Irish gay man filed a formal complaint with the European Commission against the Department of Health and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service over the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
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